Professor Schaaf Leads Royal Society Workshop on Terrestrial Laser Scanning Technology

Colleen Locke | March 02, 2017
Graduate student Edward Saenz, research fellow Zhan Li, Professor Crystal Schaaf, and graduate student Peter Boucher

Graduate student Edward Saenz, research fellow Zhan Li, Professor Crystal Schaaf, and graduate student Peter Boucher

Royal Society One of Oldest Scientific Organizations in the World

Professor of Remote Sensing Crystal Schaaf is in the United Kingdom this week, for a workshop she co-convened for the Royal Society. Established in 1660, the Royal Society is one of the oldest scientific organizations in the world.

The workshop was on Schaaf’s area of expertise – terrestrial laser scanning technology that sends out pulses of light and creates a 360-degree, 3D picture of surface vegetation such as shrubs and grass to measure the effects of radiation, erosion, and carbon. Schaaf says academics, government scientists, and policy makers came to the conference. She says the technology is of particular interest to tropical countries that need to report on how much biomass is on the ground to soak up carbon because of their carbon commitments.

“We saw this as an opportunity to not only get people together to compare strategies and techniques that we’re using and talk a little bit about the instruments that we’re using – they are always evolving,” Schaaf said.

UMass Boston was well represented at the workshop. UMass Boston Distinguished Professor of Biology Kamaljit Bawa, who was elected a fellow of the Royal Society in 2015, was one of the sponsors. Schaaf gave a talk and did a lidar demonstration with UMass Boston alumnus Ian Paynter, one of Schaaf’s post-doctoral students also gave a talk, and one of Schaaf’s graduate students did a poster presentation.

“We got two days to show what we’ve been doing and try to train the next generation,” Schaaf said.

About UMass Boston
The University of Massachusetts Boston is deeply rooted in the city's history, yet poised to address the challenges of the future. Recognized for innovative research, metropolitan Boston’s public university offers its diverse student population both an intimate learning environment and the rich experience of a great American city. UMass Boston’s 11 colleges and graduate schools serve nearly 17,000 students while engaging local and global constituents through academic programs, research centers, and public service. To learn more, visit

Tags: crystal schaaf , lidar , remote sensing , royal society

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